May 23, 1921

UNION
L LIB

Joseph Arthur Calixte √Čthier

Laurier Liberal

Mr. ETHIER:

I concur in the contention that we have no right to receive as evidence before this Committee of the Whole the evidence given before the Court in Montreal. I understand that my hon. friend stated as his point of order that we had the right, but that it was not customary for this committee to refer the matter to the Private Bills Committee. We have the right and jurisdiction, and I say on this ground the point of order should be dismissed.

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L LIB

Georges Henri Boivin (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Laurier Liberal

The CHAIRMAN:

There are evidently

two points of order now before the Chairman awaiting a ruling. First is it competent for this committee to refer back to the Private Bills Committee for further consideration and for the hearing of further evidence, a Bill reported to this House by that committee? A difference must be made between the powers of this committee and the powers of the House of Commons. This committee has no right to refer a Bill back to any Select Standing Committee. But the House of Commons has the absolute right to refer a Bill back to any Standing Committee of the House, with whatever instructions the House may deem fit to give to the said committee.

While it is not customary for

3 p.m. the Private Bills Committee of the House of Commons to hear

evidence in divorce cases, there is no doubt whatever that it has the right to do so. The second point is: Have hon. members the right to read in Committee of the Whole, evidence that was submitted in a Court of Justice in the city of Montreal? I have no hesitation in deciding that question in the negative. Hon. members have no right to submit as evidence to the Committee of the Whole House evidence which was not taken before a committee of the House or Senate and which was not accepted as evidence by the Committee on Private Bills of either House.

Hon. members have the right to refer to this evidence to the extent required to explain why it may be their intention at a later stage to move that the Bill be referred back to the Select Standing Committee on Miscellaneous Private Bills if it is reported by the committee, but I think that the reading of a portion of such evidence for this purpose, would be much more in order upon the motion to refer the Bill to the committee for further consideration.

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UNION

Michael Steele

Unionist

Mr. STEELE:

As chairman of the Private Bills Committee I would like to make a statement to the committee regarding this Bill. I may say that for some years past, the Private Bills Committee has each session appointed a sub-committee to attend the sessions of the Divorce Committees of the Senate to hear the evidence submitted there, so that they may be in a better position, perhaps, than the other members of the committee to decide whether or not the Divorce Bills that come before the Private Bills Committee should be passed. That was done this session. Some members of the Private Bills Committee attended the sessions of the Senate Divorce Committee and heard the evidence in this case. When the Private Bills Committee met on Friday, when this case was called for consideration, Mr. Dussault, of Montreal, appeared before the committee, and the committee at his request very courteously gave him an opportunity to state his case. Mr. Dussault stated that he did not appear for the respondent; he appeared, if for any person, for the child. The committee heard his statement for a time, heard him state reasons why the Bill should not pass until he at length desired to lay before the committee evidence taken before the courts in Quebec province. At that stage the committee decided that they could not receive such evidence, and in view of the fact that Mr. Dussault did not

represent the respondent, nor of course the petitioner, who were the only parties who could properly be represented before the Private Bills Committee in this case, the committee decided that it was not necessary to hear him further. The committee took the ground further that the evidence as received before the Senate Committee was sufficient to warrant the passing of the Bill. It was pointed out to the committee that, if they chose, further witnesses could be called and further evidence heard, but the majority of the committee- there was no formal vote taken-evidently were satisfied with the evidence that had been taken before the Senate Committee, and for that reason they passed the Bill as we have it to-day. ' Whether or not they were warranted in doing so is probably a matter of opinion, but it is the fact that the committee did pass this Bill, as they have passed many Divorce Bills, believing that the evidence before the committee was sufficient. I think the committee acted quite properly in refusing to accept the evidence given before the Quebec courts, and I am very glad, Mr. Chairman, that the action of the committee in that regard has been supported by your ruling. The committee, I think, extended every courtesy to Mr. Dussault, and while I may have my own personal opinion as to the advisability of granting divorces in many of these cases, I feel that in this particular case I could not go contrary to the decision of the committee.

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L LIB

Georges Parent

Laurier Liberal

Mr. PARENT:

I do not know what is going to happen to this Bill, but before it goes any further I want to put on record further evidence, being copies of judgments, in French, rendered in the courts of Montreal.

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UNION

John Allister Currie

Unionist

Mr. CURRIE :

I think the Chairman has ruled that out of order.

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L LIB

Georges Henri Boivin (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Laurier Liberal

The CHAIRMAN:

I must ask the hon. member before he reads this evidence given before a court in Montreal what he intends to prove by the reading of such evidence, and what his object is in placing that evidence before this committee.

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L LIB

Georges Parent

Laurier Liberal

Mr. PARENT:

I am producing these

copies of judgments rendered in the Montreal court to sustain the view I have already expressed that the woman in question has not been fairly treated by the Private Bills Committee.

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L LIB

Georges Henri Boivin (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Laurier Liberal

The CHAIRMAN:

The ruling of the Chairman is always subject to reversal by the House, but I would be disposed to rule

\

that while this evidence and the judgments which the hon. member is now about to submit would be quite in order to support a motion that the Bill be referred back to the Committee on Miscellaneous Private Bills for reconsideration it cannot be used in committee as an argument against the adoption of clause 1 of the Bill.

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L LIB

Rodolphe Lemieux

Laurier Liberal

Mr. LEMIEUX:

I am quite certain that no member of this House would like in such a grave matter as this to rush the Bill through without being fully confident that what we are doing at the present moment is the right thing. If it werfe an indifferent matter I would say at once to my hon. friend the Chairman of the Private Bills Committee (Mr. Steele), that I bow to the decision of that committee and accept their judgment unreservedly. But this is a caie, as was stated by my hon. friend, that affects the future of the innocent child. I say further that, according to the information which I have and which has been divulged in part when the question came before the Senate Committee, there is ground for more than suspicion that there has been collusion in this case. Why should we be so intent upon rushing this Bill through how when in a day or so the Private Bills Committee will be satisfied whether or not there is sufficient evidence to warrant the passsing of the Bill? I therefore implore my friends on both sides of the House who do not share my views on the question of divorce to wait patiently until everything has been done to clear the matter up. When that has been done, when it has been proven beyond a doubt whether or not there is a case, the committee will be in position to pass upon the Bill. I appeal to my hon. friends on both sides of the House to follow the lead that has been given us in this matter by the right hon. the member for King's (Sir Robert Borden). The committee will lose nothing by waiting for a day or so until evidence has been submitted to the Private Bills Committee. I had evidence submitted to me on Saturday-I do not refer to the evidence before the courts in Montreal, but I saw in Montreal a party closely connected with the wife-and I am informed that there is collusion in this case. Why should we put upon the statute book an Act of Parliament which will forever dissolve the matrimonial tie which binds these two people. When, perhaps two days from now, the committee will be satisfied whether or not there are grounds for granting a divorce? At all events, if the evidence is not strong enough, the Com-

[The Chairman ]

mittee of the House will be at liberty to do as it pleases.

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UNION

Henry Herbert Stevens

Unionist

Mr. STEVENS:

There is no motion

before the committee to refer the Bill back.

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L LIB

Rodolphe Lemieux

Laurier Liberal

Mr. LEMIEUX:

Well, I beg to move, seconded by my good friend, the right hon. member for King's (Sir Robert Borden), that the Bill be now referred back to the committee.

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UNION

Robert Laird Borden

Unionist

Sir ROBERT BORDEN:

My hon.

friend does not remember the ruling given by the Chairman a little while ago. If it is desired to refer the Bill back to the Private Bills Committee, we shall have to proceed in another way. We must have the Bill reported, and before it is read the third time, some hon. member can move that the order for third reading be discharged and that the Bill be referred back to the Committee on Miscellaneous Private Bills for the purpose of taking further evidence; or some hon. member can move that the Committee of the Whole rise and report progress, and when progress is reported a motion can be made that the order for reference to the Committee of the Whole be discharged and that the Bill be referred back to the Private Bills Committee. The same result would be attained in either case, but you cannot refer the Bill back to the committee at this stage.

I am perfectly satisfied, since reading the evidence, that there is ample proof that the woman has been guilty of adultery.

It is quite possible that the husband also has been guilty of adultery, and it is equally possible that there may have been collusion. The difficulty about dealing with these questions, in the way they are dealt with in this Parliament, is that the ordinary precautions taken in a court to guard against collusion, are not taken here; and I must confess that sometimes I am a little surprised at the attitude of some of my hon. friends on the other side of the , House. If they want to restrict divorce and put proper safeguards around it, then all these questions ought to be referred to the courts, where the necessary precautions can be observed. You cannot very well have these safeguards so long as the present procedure is continued. You have a sub-committee of the Committee on Miscellaneous Bills going over to the Senate and watching the evidence, and, after all, that is little better than a makeshift. There are circumstances in this case that seem to point to the possibility of collusion. What would take place if these matters were relegated to the Court?

The King's Proctor would be there, and would institute an immediate inquiry as to whether or not there was collusion. You would have a subpoena issued by the Court, bringing the woman before the Court, and she would be examined thoroughly and exhaustively in respect of every circum-tance that might point to collusion or otherwise. You cannot very well carry out any such procedure as that in the Senate or in a Committee of the House of Commons, but you could take every necessary precaution and exercise every safeguard if these questions of divorce were dealt with in the proper way. I hope the committee will pardon me for this suggestion, which has often occurred to me. Let me repeat again: if it is desired to refer this Bill back, some procedure other than that which my hon. friend from Maisonneuve (Mr. Lemieux), has just suggested, must be adopted.

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L LIB

Rodolphe Lemieux

Laurier Liberal

Mr. LEMIEUX:

I move, then, seconded by my good friend from King's, that the committee rise and report progress, and ask leave to sit again.

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UNION

Hugh Guthrie (Solicitor General of Canada; Minister of Militia and Defence)

Unionist

Mr. GUTHRIE:

Mr. Chairman, that will not put us any further ahead than we are now. .

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L LIB

Georges Henri Boivin (Deputy Speaker and Chair of Committees of the Whole of the House of Commons)

Laurier Liberal

The CHAIRMAN:

The motion is not debatable.

Motion agreed to on division: Yeas, 49; nays, 42.

Progress reported.

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PRIVATE BILLS

CONSIDERED IN COMMITTEE-THIRD READING'S


Bill No. 165, for the relief of Lily Maude McCormack. Bill No. 166, for the relief of Herbert Henry Brown. Bill No. 167, respecting certain patents of Autographic Register Systems, Ltd. Bill No. 169, for the relief of Rose Seig-ler Schatsburg. Bill No. 170, for the relief of Eudora Edith Webster Perry. Bill No. 171, for the relief of John Howard Ferguson. Bill No. 172, for the relief of Edith Myrtle Barnes. Bill No. 173, for the relief of Sherman Talmage Smith. Bill No. 174, for the relief of John Hurst. Bill No. 175, for the relief of Florence Gibb. Bill No. 176, for the relief of Nora Beatrice McDonald. Bill No. 177, for' the relief 'of Mabel Alice Allport. Bill No. 178, for the relief of Abbie Jane Harris Wigle. Bill No. 179, for the relief of Walter Edwin Sloan. Bill No. 180, for the relief of James Leslie Glover. Bill No. 181 for the relief of William Gordon Gordon. Bill No. 182, for the relief of Anna Elizabeth Walker. Bill No. 183, for the relief of Arthur Wilfred Rigby. Bill No. 184, for'the relief of Albert Sydney McPherson. Bill No. 185, for the relief of Ernest Alfred Ballard. Bill No. 186, for the relief of William Gladstone Cook. Bill No. 190, for the relief of Frederick Oxford. Bill No. 191, for the relief of John Deluce. Bill No. 192, for the relief of John Samuel Bain. Bill No. 193, for the relief of Addie Irene Gilbert. Bill No. 194, for the relief of Ethel Edna Denning. Bill No. 195, for the relief of Audrey Cleeve Bennett Gibbons. Bill No. 196, for the relief of Laura Newson. Bill No. 197, for the relief of Tom Eccles. Bill No. 198, for the relief of John Chalk. Bill No. 168 to incorporate the Edmonton and Mackenzie River Railway Company. Bill No. 189, respecting the Great West Bank of Canada-Mr. Cowan. Bill No. 188, respecting the Central Railway of Canada.-Mr. Ethier. v


FORT SMITH RAILWAY COMPANY

May 23, 1921